Health Benefits of Being Outside
Most of us are familiar with the health benefits of spending time outside, but can it reverse, or at a minimum – prolong – the aging process?
Before we answer that, here’s a quick reminder of the health benefits of being outside, in case you’re on the fence about lacing up your shoes and taking that afternoon stroll.
Being outside (for Montanans, this might mean a river walk, a bike ride, or a hike) increases Vitamin D levels, and lowers anxiety and depression. It boosts creativity and increases focus. Outdoor activities force you away from screens and help you sleep better. According to Jules Pretty, Professor of Environment and Society at the University of Essex, some of these benefits present themselves in just five minutes of outdoor activity.
The benefits of getting back to nature are undeniable, and when you live in a place like Montana, the options for enjoying the outdoors are endless. As if we need more reasons to get outside, scientists are discovering that certain outdoor activities can diminish the effects of aging.
Live Longer with “healthy stressors”?
David Sinclair, a professor of genetics at Harvard Medical School and co-director of the Paul F. Glenn Center for the Biology of Aging, maintains that we can double our life expectancy and live active, healthy lives well into old age.
If it interests you, dive into the complicated but fascinating science behind Sinclair’s theories in his book, Lifespan: Why We Age and Why We Don’t Have to. If you are looking for a quick punchline to feeling as biologically young as possible, here is one – expose yourself to “healthy stressors.”
Most would argue that our lives have plenty of stress, thank you very much. Sinclair advocates for a different kind of stress. He espouses the benefits of exercise, cold exposure, and calorie reduction (fasting).
What do these three things have in common? According to Sinclair, “healthy stressors” boost our body’s defenses and survival circuits. Wim Hof, the grandfather of cold water therapy, has been telling us this for years.
Simply put, humans do not trigger their inner survivalist in this age of creature comforts. Prolonging hunger and brief exposure to the cold (a short walk in the cold weather without a coat, or a quick cold shower) triggers our body’s survival and immune systems the same way they were triggered before humans had 24-hour fast-food restaurants and forced air heat.
So take that brisk, cool walk in the morning. Go for a quick dip in the river. Montana is known for its cooler temperatures but what if those chilly mornings and long winters are keeping us physically younger, longer?
Consult with your physician before engaging in “healthy stressors.”
This article is an excerpt from our newly released LIVE Montana. Pick up a copy at your closest Glacier Sotheby’s International Realty location, find it in racks across Western and North Western Montana, or enjoy the digital version here: